2021 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships begin Friday at USC
SAN FRANCISCO – After a one-year hiatus, the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships return this weekend when USC hosts the Conference meet at Katherine B. Loker Track Stadium from May 14-16.
The Trojans are hosting the Pac-12 title meet for the seventh time and first in eight years. USC previously hosted in 1962, 1964, 1974, 1986, 2003 and 2013. The Championships in 1962, 1964, 1974 and 1986 were contested at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Historically spread over two weeks, this year’s event features an updated, three-day schedule with all running-, field- and multi-event champions crowned on the same weekend.
A trio of men’s squads are ranked in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index, led by 13-time defending Pac-12 champion and No. 3 OREGON. UO has posted the third- (175 in 2017), fourth- (174 in 2018) and fifth-most (173 in 2019) points in Championships history over the past three events.
Duck athletes have nine times or marks among the top 10 on the NCAA descending order lists, highlighted by Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare. Entered in the 800 and 5,000 this weekend, Hocker is fifth (1:46.60) and first (13:19.98) in those events among all collegians this season and is also fourth in the 1,500 (3:36.47). Teare is No. 2 nationally in both the 1,500 (3:35.97) and 5,000 (13:20.24). Charlie Hunter, the reigning NCAA indoor 800 champion, has run twice during the outdoor campaign and is No. 10 on the NCAA descending order list in the event (1:47.21). Hocker, Hunter and Teare are all on The Bowerman Watch List.
Freshman Micah Williams has run the 100 once this season and his 10.03 is third in the country and seventh on the Conference’s all-time top-10 list, while Ben Milligan is fifth in the NCAA in the high jump (7-4 ½) and Max Vollmer is sixth in the decathlon (7,695). The Ducks' 4x100 relay is also sixth (39.02).
USC enters the meet ranked No. 4 nationally. Fifth in 2019, the Trojans have finished in the top three in eight of the last 11 conference meets. Its last team title came in 2006. The Trojans boast seven times or marks among the top 10 in the country this outdoor season, including Isaiah Jewett’s NCAA-leading 1:45.80 in the 800. Jordan Scott is second in the triple jump (55-7 ¾), Matthew Katnik second in the shot (68-1 ½), Cameron Samuel fourth in the 400 hurdles (49.67), McKay Johnson sixth in the shot put (66-2 ½) and Earnie Sears eighth in the high jump (7-3 ¾). USC’s 4x400 relay is seventh (3:04.05).
Currently No. 20, ARIZONA has been ranked as high as No. 8 and is led by two of the nation’s best in the hammer in Israel Oloyede and Jordan Geist. Oloyede has the third-best mark in the country this year (239-2) and Geist, the 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, the sixth (233-7). A two-time Pac-12 Men’s Track Athlete of the Week in 2021, freshman Johnnie Blockburger is fifth in the NCAA in the 400 (44.71). The Wildcats were third at the Pac-12 Championships in 2019 with 94 points.
ARIZONA STATE, STANFORD and WASHINGTON have also appeared in the USTFCCCA rankings at one point or another during the season. Leading the Sun Devils is redshirt junior Turner Washington, who is the NCAA leader in the shot put (69-1 ½) and discus (217-5), is on The Bowerman Watch List and has thrice been named the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week.
Among others in the top 10 nationally in their events, CALIFORNIA’s Josh Johnson is 10th in the shot put (65-2 ¾), COLORADO’s Eduardo Herrera is sixth in the 5,000 (13:24.46), UCLA’s Harrison Schrage is 10th in the long jump (26-1 ¾), WASHINGTON’s Elijah Mason is fifth in the discus (199-1), WASHINGTON STATE’s Colton Johnson is 10th in the steeplechase (8:42.80) and fellow Cougar John Kolb is 10th in the discus (193-6).
In total, seven event champions are back to defend their 2019 titles in Jewett (800), Teare (5,000), Samuel (400 hurdles), Sears (high jump), Geist (shot put), Mason (discus) and Vollmer (decathlon).
Five of the nation’s top 25 teams come from the Pac-12 and are led by No. 5 and two-time defending Conference champion USC. In 2019, the Women of Troy won seven events and scored all of their 154 points on the meet’s final day, highlighted by 20.5 points apiece from current redshirt senior Anna Cockrell and 2019 Pac-12 Women’s Track Athlete of the Year Anglerne Annelus. USC capped its repeat in style, setting a Championships record in the 4x400 meter relay finale (3:29.23).
Going for its third consecutive Pac-12 title this weekend and fourth overall (1996), USC has finished first or second in each of the last six conference meets. The Trojans have NCAA leaders in the 400 (Kaelin Roberts; 51.14), 400 hurdles (Cockrell; 55.59) and 4x100 relay (42.63) and another five times or marks among the top 10, including Bailey Lear (seventh; 51.57) and Kyra Constantine (eighth; 51.58) in the 400 and USC's 4x400 relay (eighth; 3:29.72). Senior TeeTee Terry is the lone Pac-12 woman on The Bowerman Watch List. The two-time defending Pac-12 100 champion, Terry is undefeated in the event this season with a best of 11.08 to tie for fourth nationally and also anchors the nation’s fastest 4x100 team (42.63).
The Conference’s other ranked squads are bunched closely together with UCLA at No. 12, Oregon at No. 13, Arizona at No. 15 and Colorado at No. 17. The Bruins are led by a pair of redshirt juniors in Shae Anderson and Alyssa Wilson. Both two-time Pac-12 weekly award winners this season, Anderson is second in the country in the 400 (51.16) and 400 hurdles (56.45) and 11th in the 200 (22.96). She is entered in the 400 hurdles this weekend along with the Bruins’ 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay teams, which are 15th (43.89) and tenth (3:30.16) in the country this year, respectively. Among collegians in 2021, Wilson is second in the hammer (229-6) and ninth in the shot put (58-2 ½). She is the reigning Pac-12 Women’s Field Athlete of the Year from 2019.
For the Ducks, Kemba Nelson is among the nation’s best in the 100 (fourth; 11.08w) and 200 (fourth; 22.79w) and part of the country’s third-fastest 4x100 relay (42.97). Carmela Cardama Baez is eighth in the 10,000 (32:57.01) and 10th in the 5,000 (15:36.41).
Arizona has some of the top field event athletes around, including three of the NCAA’s top 10 high jumpers in Lillian Lowe (fifth; 6-1 ½), Karla Teran (eighth; 6-0 ½) and Alexa Porpaczy (10th; 6-0). Samantha Noennig, the 2019 Pac-12 champion in the shot put while at ASU, is third nationally in the event this season (59-7 ½), while Shannon Meisberger is fourth in the 400 hurdles (56.61).
Colorado’s Sage Hurta, twice voted Pac-12 Women’s Track Athlete of the Week this season, is entered in the 800 as she eyes the two-minute barrier. Her school-record time of 2:00.62 from early April is second in the country. Although not entered in the 1,500 this weekend, Hurta leads the nation in that event (4:08.38). Sixth nationally in the steeplechase (9:48.09), Madison Boreman will look to keep CU’s streak going, as the Buffs have won every Conference steeplechase title since 2012, including her own in 2017 and Hurta’s in 2018.
ASU has been ranked on two occasions throughout the year and led by strong performances from Joridne van Klinken, who is fifth nationally in the discus (195-11) and 10th in the shot put (57-10 ½), and Beatrice Llano, who is seventh in the hammer (222-11).
Among others in the top 10 nationally in their events, California’s Camryn Rogers is the defending Conference hammer champion and leads the NCAA again this season with a mark of 239-9, good for second on the Pac-12’s all-time top-10 list. Stanford's Ella Donaghu is third in the 5,000 (15:29.42), Washington's Katie Rainsberger is seventh among all collegians this season in the steeplechase (9:49.79) and Washington State’s Charisma Taylor is ninth in the triple jump (44-2 ¾). Haley Herberg of Washington is ninth in the 5,000 (15:36.32), but will be running her first 10,000 on Friday night.
In total, nine event champions are back to defend their 2019 titles in Terry (100), Annelus (200), Roberts (400), Cockrell (400 hurdles), Teran (high jump), Noennig (shot put), Wilson (discus), Rogers (hammer) and Washington’s Hannah Rusnak (heptathlon).